LEUVEN, Belgium – Moore's Law, the engine of semiconductor innovation for decades, is losing steam due to delayed introduction of next-generation extreme ultraviolet lithography. That was the verdict of experts at the 2012 International Symposium on Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography.
EUV systems need light sources that are nearly 20 times more powerful than the ones used today to lay down patterns on next-generation chips that target sizes as small as 14 nm, Following a global symposium on the topic here, a group of lithography experts said that they hope to have the 200W EUV light sources by 2014—but it may take more time.
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Using less powerful light sources, researchers at the Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre (IMEC) here have created about 3,000 wafers using EUV in the past year. But the throughput of the multimillion dollar systems are still 15-30 times too slow for commercial chip makers such as Intel, Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
Researchers have improved the power of light sources 20-fold over the past three years. But they must make similar heroic improvements in the next two years before EUV is ready for production, said Kurt Ronse, IMEC's director advanced lithography program, reporting on the conclusions of an EUV symposium in Brussels. The group also called for development of 500-1,000W EUV light sources by 2016.
As a result of the EUV delays “the [semiconductor] industry is no longer taking full steps, but implementing half nodes,” Ronse said. “They still call it 14 nm but it’s probably more like 16 or 17 nm,” he said.
Airplanes developed at an astonishing rate 1900-1960s. Then 1960s-2012 we pretty much have the same technology in the air.
I see the same thing happening with the semiconductor industry. EUV or Ebeam will be in operation for decades without dramatic improvement in resolution or throughput. The semiconductor industry will not be the highest tech during this future era.
EUV is the most expensive to develop, so it requires industrial consortia or collaborations to be able to channel (i.e., waste) this level of spending. I am sure the next thing they will think of is to abandon 13.5 nm and work on the next wavelength 6.7 nm.
You are quite correct, IMHO. EUV would be last on any reasonable scale (had not so many careers not been invested in it) , but DSA wouldn't even be on the scale. Multibeam (a.k.a. e-beam direct write) has been around in various incarnations for decades and always ends up not on silicon, but on masks, where it belongs. Problem is no one will invest solely in mask writers, a tiny, yet demanding market. So, inventors in the direct write space always sell investors on silicon and are invariably disappointed.
DSA is a another pipedream, the latest shiny penny in a 2 decade search for a replacement for optical when it runs out of gas, which presumably was 2 decades ago. It is yet another screaming example of "nice from far but far from nice". Everyone one of these "solutions" had an Achilles Heel(s) of either source, mask or resist. This includes EUV, a.k.a. soft x-ray projection lithography. Meanwhile, it looks like imprint is indeed on Toshiba's roadmap for nonvolatile memory. Why? Because imprint uses commercial resists, masks, and sources, is cheap, and must only reduce defects.
I agree with Litho Lady. DSA has made interesting progress and nanoimprint is actually selling multiple tools!
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